Friday, December 23, 2016

Lifting Up the Lowly

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor
on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud
in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful
from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

There is comfort for me this season as I read again the words of the Magnificat which is one of the scripture of today. Mary's words of prayer and proclamation about the baby she is going to give birth to.  There is tremendous irony in these promises of the king born in the stable to a young girl.  The king whose first worshippers were animals and shepherds.  It is all a picture of the upside down life of Christ.  

Richard Rohr in his daily meditation today wrotet a summary explanation of the worldview and plan of the coming of Christ.  Jesus comes so that we might know that

"God can be trusted. God is like a loving Father or Mother who is involved in our lives and our world. So do not be afraid.     Divine Love has the power to effect lasting and real change. Alignment with such truth is to live under the “Reign of God.” The simple and pure motivation for all morality and religion is simply the imitation of God who is love."

 And in this season where some of us - like me - are experiencing abundance of love and material blessings it is easy to see a God who can be trusted.  But you cannot read the paper and ignore the truth of too many people who have too little.  The situation in Syria is truly horrific and heartbreaking, for example.  But it is more than that - my work at the funeral home is a reminder that for some people this is a very blue and sad Christmas.

When I was serving as a pastor in Bowling Green Ohio I was part of a clergy group that met faithfully every week to talk about our sermons for the coming Sunday.  Bob Versteeg was our convener and truly a mentor to many of us.  I remember him reminding us every Advent that Jesus came for the broken, the hurting, the grieving.  Christ IS for them because it is a picture of light in the darkest times and life that comes despite the work of the enemy.  This is a story that  if we could only experience it with new eyes can give us hope.

God comes to "lift up the lowly" and to turn the world upside down.  Showing us a way of non violence, reconciliation and love healing - that is VERY countercultural - but is where truth and life is found. 

So, my prayers for all of us who are blessed with a comfortable Christmas is that we might continue to seek to imitate the God who is love. And find the ways in which we are called to be a comfort for those who are grieving and a source of hope.   Sometimes it is so hard to see the light in the midst of the darkest times.  Here is a prayer for us all who need to be lifted up.

May it be so.

May God bless you in your BLINDNESS,
when it is impossible to see in spite of all your looking,
may God bless you with the ability to envision a better world and to visualize a healed creation.
May you be given the gift of prophecy as you share your vision with all who surround you.
May you help others to see by your touch of compassion and your word of encouragement.
May the God of VISION  bless you.

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